A Farewell to J. Joseph Curran, Jr.

So U.S. District Judge Benson E. Legg has overturned Maryland’s “May Issue” concealed-carry permit system, stating, on the heels of D.C. v Heller and Chicago v McDonald:

…the Court finds that the right to bear arms is not limited to the home.

…the regulation at issue is a rationing system. It aims, as Defendants concede, simply to reduce the total number of firearms carried outside of the home by limiting the privilege to those who can demonstrate “good reason” beyond a general desire for self-defense. In support of this limitation, Defendants list numerous reasons why handguns pose a threat to public safety in general and why curbing their proliferation is desirable.

Maryland’s goal of minimizing the proliferation of handguns among those who do not have a demonstrated need for them, is not a permissible method of preventing crime or ensuring public safety; it burdens the right too broadly. Those who drafted and ratified the Second Amendment surely knew that the right they were enshrining carried a risk of misuse, and states have considerable latitude to channel the exercise of the right in ways that will minimize that risk. States may not, however, seek to reduce the danger by means of widespread curtailment of the right itself.

At bottom, this case rests on a simple proposition: If the Government wishes to burden a right guaranteed by the Constitution, it may do so provided that it can show a satisfactory justification and a sufficiently adapted method. The showing, however, is always the Government’s to make. A citizen may not be required to offer a “good and substantial reason” why he should be permitted to exercise his rights. The right’s existence is all the reason he needs.

Compare and contrast with former Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran’s 1999 manifesto A Farewell to Arms:

The time is now. We must get serious – no more band-aids, no more excuses. The moral fiber of our society will be measured by our response. The problem is not just guns in the wrong hands or a failure to enforce laws already on the books.

For me, therefore, the answer is easy. I have added up the costs, and they outweigh the benefits. As a grandfather, I am ready to say enough children have died. In short, I believe that we should no longer allow unrestricted handgun ownership.

Thus, our public policy goal should be to restrict the sale and possession of all handguns to those who can demonstrate a legitimate law enforcement purpose or can guarantee that the use of such guns will be limited to participation in a regulated sporting activity. Handgun ownership that advances reasonable law enforcement purposes must be permitted. Individuals with a professional need to have a licensed gun – law enforcement officers, gun collectors, some business owners and certain other professional groups – will continue to keep handguns on business premises or for use on the job. The rest of us, (the rest of you he means) however, must give them up.

In the long run, we must go the last mile. These limits must be reflected in the laws by which we govern ourselves. The law must embody the public policy goal of ridding our homes and communities of handguns through restrictive handgun licensing. Handgun ownership which advances reasonable law enforcement purposes can and must continue, but the costs of allowing the rest of us to own handguns are too great. We should endure those costs no longer.

Bear in mind, this was the published opinion of a sitting state Attorney General.

And it was wiped out by the simple statement, “A citizen may not be required to offer a ‘good and substantial reason’ why he should be permitted to exercise his rights. The right’s existence is all the reason he needs.”

Take that, J.J.

Good riddance.

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